Provo River Fishing Report and Outlook Late March

brown trout provo river utah mar 2018Jim and I met early on Wed. (March 21st) to do this year’s first walk through (and fish) from River Road all the way down to the Memorial Bridge.

As the crow flies, its about 3.2 miles, but the way it has to be walked is at least 4 miles. So many holes and so little time…

It was 38°F and raining as we were packing up in the parking lot, but the forecast was for mid 40s and partly cloudy. We met a fellow fisherman (Steven; I apologize because I may have confused his name with other folks we met) and invited him to go with us.

We walked at least 20 or 25 minutes to get past all the easy fishing spots and started hitting our favorite holes. Some of the holes were also known to our fishing partner and he also had some favorite spots that he fished.

We passed over a few holes that already had fishermen in them. Folks that walk this far usually like to fish alone.

It was still too early in the day for a  hatch, so I rigged up a bounce rigs while Jim took video from across the river. Steven started Czech-nymphing/Euro-nymphing with BWO nymphs.

What Rain Means for Fly Fishing

I mentioned it was raining when we arrived, but the rain soon stopped. But rain is a good indication that fish will be looking for worms. We started bouncing a sow bug and a worm and soon caught fish on the worm.

The fishing was not furious, so we kept moving downstream. A fisherman I spoke to on the way to the next hole confirmed all his fish that day were also caught on worms.

We still do not understand the reasoning, but many times you can stand in one place and catch a dozen fish or more and other times, there seems to be one fish per hole.

We know there are more fish in the hole, but perhaps the rest are disturbed when the first fish is caught.

Why is that not always true? Only the fish gods know and they ain’t telling.

Today looked as if it were going to be a one fish per hole day.

But then the next hole looked more promising as we caught several small fish quickly on both worms and midge nymphs. Steven moved down below us to a section he always wanted to fish and caught brown trout and a giant whitefish on BWO nymphs (still Czech-nymphing)

Jim wanted to move downstream in time to catch the hatch on one of our favorite holes, but then Jim caught a big whitefish, so we lingered longer than we intended.

Great Hatch, but Flawed Set up for Dry Flies

Just as we were ready to leave, we notice fish were starting to rise in the hole we had been fishing. So we stayed and started fishing on top.

Many things were against us (the reason Jim wanted to move); the sun was in our eyes the wind was blowing across the direction we needed to cast and there was a current between us and the calm water where the fish were rising.

We still caught a few on top on BWOs and BWO shucks, but it was hard work and not very productive.

The hatch was mostly buffalo midges and a few Blue-wing Olives. The hatch would run in spurts, so the fish would turn off and then back on very quickly. It was fun to watch and we couldn’t resist the challenge of catching fish on top, but in reality, we would have been better off to move to a hole with the sun and wind at our backs and calm water between us and rising fish.

The entire time, Steven continued to catch fish under the water with his Czech-nymphing rig.

The hatch finally quit around 2:00. Steven left us and Jim and I continued downstream.

Since the hatch was over, we stopped a run that always proven successful. Jim fished first (bounced midge nymph) and I was ready on the camera. Jim quickly caught a few brown trout.

When we traded places, my bounce rig was still rigged with worms and midge nymphs from the morning. First cast, I hooked a big brown that amazed us with his jumping ability. It’s all on video when Jim gets a chance to post it. I lost track of how many times that fish jumped, but I’m going to say it was 5 or 6. After the video is published, maybe we can count the number of jump, then add a few more! What a fun fish. This is why we fish.

The Monster Fish Hole

After that big fish tore up the hole, we moved downstream where Jim gave me strict instructions to catch an identical fish for the video.

I hated to disappoint, but I did catch another big whitefish. I am always reminded of the two giant fish (presumed to be a whitefish) that I hooked here in previous years.

One was so big, I thought I was hung up on he bottom and actually started flipping my line to get loose. The fish was so big it didn’t know it was hooked. Once he figured it out, I had no chance.

The other big fish ran upstream, then downstream and I couldn’t stop him. He finally broke me off around a big tree in the middle of the river.

We had to skip a few good holes and keep moving downstream, before dark caught us. The lower part of the river above the Memorial Bridge is not a good place to be caught in the dark. There are no good trails on either side of the river.

We were about to pass by one of our favorite holes, but Jim decided he had to fish it. When you get that feeling, you must obey.

Jim hooked into a big brown and it took over 5 minutes to land the fish (I got the whole thing on video – hope).

That’s the way to end a fishing trip.

What flies and techniques caught fish on the Middle Provo River in March – Early April?

We have records for 13 fishing trips on the middle Provo River (2014 – 2018) during that time frame and my notes say we caught 156 fish.

Catch Chart for Middle Provo River – Mar. 8 – Apr. 5 (2014 – 2018)

Technique Fly Fish Pcent

or Czech
P.R. worm   38 24.4%
sow bug   30 19.2%
midge nymph   16 10.3%
BWO nymph   14   9.0%
egg pattern    6   3.8%
Total under
104 66.7%
dry or
midge shuck   27 17.3%
BWO   11  7.1%
noseeum/Phil (midge)    7  4.5%
BWO shuck    7  4.5%
Total Top  22 17.6%

This report was prepared on March 22, so the dates include that date plus 14 days prior to and after.

Our per fish average for those 13 trips is 12.0 fish per trip.

Of those 156 fish, we caught 104 by fishing under the water with the bounce rig, in-line rig or Czech nymphing and we caught 52 fish on top either fishing dry flies or as dry-droppers.

Midges are always hatching on the Provo River, and the Buffalo Midges hatch is definitely on. We have seen a few blue-wing olives and fish have been taking them as well as the midge flies.

For nymphing this time of year on the Middle Provo River, the sow bugs have yet to turn on (but they will) and the egg patterns are not much use unless you are fishing for rainbows down near Deer Creek Reservoir..

Provo River worms can almost always be used to catch fish on the Provo River, especially after a snow melt, a rain or when high water is causing banks to collapse.

The data in the Catch Chart show fish caught by technique and by fly, but does not show the total effort that went into each technique/fly combination. Other techniques and flies were tried (such as swinging soft hackles or steamers), but were not included if no fish were caught.

Flies to Use in Late March to Early April on the Provo River

What flies should you have in your fly box the next few weeks on the Middle Provo River?

Our Catch Chart for that time frame has nine different flies.

  • P.R. worm
  • sow bug
  • midge shuck
  • midge nymph
  • BWO nymph
  • BWO fly
  • noseeum and Phil flies
  • BWO shucks
  • egg patterns

Sow bugs and worms patterns caught 44% of our fish in previous trips this time of year and midge and BWO shucks and BWO nymphs caught more than a third of the fish.

That means we caught 81% of our fish on these five flies. If you learn to fish these flies properly (nymphing and/or dry flies on top), you will catch fish.

Lower Provo River Fishing Report

Note: we also fished three days on the Lower Provo River during this time frame in previous years. We caught 37 fish with about 90% nymphing and 10% on top.

More than half were caught bouncing sow bugs and a third were caught on midge and BWO nymphs. The few fish caught on top were on BWOs and Griffiths gnats.

See you on the river.

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This Provo River Fishing Outlook Report is provided by Jim O’Neal &

Watch our fly fishing videos here at Jim’s YouTube site.

Last weeks video pending publication of new video.

At the end of the video, Jim shows his fly box, so you can see all the flies we used.

Phil Bair at Provo River Buffalo Midge Hatch

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